Beijing is considering amending the car plate lottery regulations, to make the system fairer for those who have been entering for a long time, but failed to win.
While traffic authorities admitted it may be difficult to change the regulations, some Beijing residents think the rule change may make the lottery system more unfair.
Liu Xiaoming, director of Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport said Wednesday on a radio program that traffic authorities have been looking at whether measures could be introduced that favor those who had been "waiting in the pool for too long."
For example, only one member of a family would be able to enter the registration draw, instead of all members of a family applying in every draw time and time again, or making one household that already owns a car wait before being able to reapply.
Liu admitted that changes to the policy might face public disapproval, and said they will solicit public opinion as to the details.
Wang Limei, the secretary-general of China Road Transport Association, said that she suggested the proposal at two Beijing government meetings this year thinking of "fairness in social resources distribution."
Since Beijing adopted the system, even though it is imperfect, the city should try to improve it, as it is here to stay, Wang said.
"With limited resources, it's only fair to provide a bigger chance for a family which doesn't already own a car, and also not let lottery winners from one family waste chances," said Wang.
The Beijing car registration lottery office announced the odds of winning was at 1:42 for the latest round in April, with over 840,000 applicants in the pool. Since the system started in January 2011, there were cases where three members from one family won a registration, despite owning a car, while many car-less households had failed to win, said the lottery office.
"People that already have one car in the family should be banned from applying for a while, so that applicants like me will have a better chance of winning," said local resident Yu Peng. He and his wife have applied for a vehicle registration for about a year, but so far without success.
However, Yu was reluctant to approve of a policy change where only he could apply, instead of both of them.
Another local resident, surnamed He, whose husband and mother-in-law applied for the right to buy a second car, also disagrees.
"People's right to buy a car should not be restricted. The city should think of a better solution to traffic management [problems]," she said.
"As the applicants are applying using an individual ID instead of per household, there are difficulties identifying which applications have doubled up. But there does need to be more research before introducing new measures," said Wang.
Fortunately, it seems that there is no dilemma for expatriates, as most cannot imagine driving in Beijing.
"If the regulation makes sense to make the traffic in Beijing less scary, then it's fine, but I still think driving is the worst [method of] transportation," said Ilya Cheremnikh, an Israeli expatriate who has lived in China for five years.
Cherry Williams, a housewife from the US, has another reason for not becoming an "unlucky winner" because her friend had bad experiences selling a car when the family left the country after three years, as none of the interested parties had a vehicle registration to transfer ownership.
Rights to register a vehicle remain with the person, rather than with the vehicle, so selling secondhand cars has become problematic in the capital.
The regulations require expats to have proof of residence in Beijing for at least one year or a permanent residence permit before they can enter the lottery, according to the city's traffic management office.